Dear Only Parent,
I saw you again at the park today with your kids.
They are always so happy. They run and squeal and play and have not a care in the world.
You, on the other hand, do.
I can tell by the warrior expression you maintain…the way that you speak. And react. You are both calm and stressed. Happy but deeply sad. Strong but incredibly frail and weak. It is obvious, perhaps to only me, by the unique look of the loving sadness smattered across your face like newsprint…that you are an Only Parent.
Only Parents are special people…because when you are the Only Parent, you are the Only Parent.
For whatever reason, the other parent in your scenario is absent. Just gone. There are no visitations, or shared custodies, or weekend overnights with another parent.
Because the true, fresh hell is that the other parent is just not there.
There could be any number of reasons for this.
But whatever the reason, the Only Parent suffers from an exhaustion that comes from a deep pool of loss, pain and sheer overwhelm.
All at one time, the Only Parent is carrying the burden of the entire household, on one income, while balancing work, school and activities. Add a disability to the mix, (to either the parent or the child), or a David and Goliath-esque battle to the mix, or BOTH…and you have one very amazing, exhausted warrior.
Only Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Or the easily offended.
There are times when you are going to have to make peace with the fact that it is just okay to say no, and skip social events to take a nap.
Seeing a happy family together with both parents and squealing children, will both bring you joy and make your heart shatter at the exact same time.
Some nights a rotisserie chicken and boxed mac-n-cheese will have to be justified as nutritious.
There may be times when you will have to accept generosity, and just resign yourself to the fact that the only way to repay that generosity is to simply pay it forward when you are able.
And there will be days when it will feel like no one else on the entire planet understands your battle, your wounds, and your victories.
But I do.
Be strong, wondrous warrior. The battle that we fight is for the most precious villagers of all.